Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich ‘eligible to become Israeli’

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London, May 29 (IANS) Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire owner of the Chelsea FC, has flown to Tel Aviv after being found eligible for Israeli citizenship following days of uncertainty over his UK visa renewal.

Immigration officials told the BBC late Monday that he was interviewed last week at the Israeli embassy in Moscow after his UK investor visa reportedly expired some weeks ago.

Abramovich, 51, would be the richest person in Israel. He is worth $11.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine

The delay in issuing Abramovich a new visa comes amid increased diplomatic tensions between London and Moscow after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in southern England.

Abramovich did not attend the FA cup final at Wembley earlier this month when Chelsea beat Manchester United.

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Israeli media reports have said that he has been given an identity card in Israel under the Law of Return, which allows Jews to become citizens of Israel, the BBC reported.

The Times of Israel said the Interior Ministry had confirmed Mr Abramovich arrived in Israel on Monday and that he had emigrated to the country.

He is a frequent visitor to Israel and bought a hotel in Tel Aviv in 2015 which according to reports, has been converted into his residence.

Israel passport holders are allowed to enter Britain without a visa for short stays.

The move could pay off financially as new Israeli citizens are exempt from paying tax on foreign income for 10 years.

Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003. He reportedly sold dolls before making his fortune in oil in the 1990s after the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

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He has previously served as Governor of Russia’s Chukotka region.

–IANS

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